Major dredging is going on at the Lynnhaven Inlet right now after parts of the waterway were scrambled by Hurricane Sandy.
Pilot boats, fishermen and others travel through this waterway every day.
But sand and sediment have piled up along the bottom of the channel making it difficult to get through.
“It’s too shallow, it’s too shallow for the larger vessels and we don’t want it to even get worse as the winter months come on and those shoaling conditions typically occur,” says Kristin Mazur, project manager for the Norfolk District of the Army Corps of Engineers . This is going to change that.
The Cutter-Head Dredge Wilko basically works like a giant vacuum cleaner.
“It sucks the material into the dredge and it pumps it out through a hydraulic pipeline,” says Mazur.
Mazur says the channel will be dredged to a depth of 10 feet to 12.
Right now, it`s only between 6 to 8 feet in some places.
The Lynnhaven Inlet typically undergoes maintenance dredging every year and requires a larger project about every three years.
But Hurricane Sandy forced the Corps to speed things up this year.
“Hurricane Sandy caused these navigation channels to shoal in and brought material into the channels that weren’t typically there,” says Mazur.
The dredging will take place along the entire Lynnhaven Inlet Federal Navigation Channel so that boats can safely travel.
So where does all that sand go? Not far.
It travels along a pumpline where it ends up on Ocean Park Beach next to the Lesner Bridge.
Some of it will also be pumped to an area off of Great Neck Road near Surf Rider Grill.
Beach nourishment isn`t the main focus of this project, but it is an added plus.
“It’s already created a benefit right now because it has increased the width of the beach and the beach profile,” says Mazur.
The Corps says they have up to four months to complete the project, but they expect they`ll be finished sooner, possibly by the end of December unless weather slows down progress.